I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Jasper Dent #1)

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I Hunt Killers is the first book in the Jasper Dent young adult thriller series by the author Barry Lyga. I’ve read the book last year, however as I’m reading book 3 right now, I figured I’ll add the first two book reviews, so by the time I’m through with the third book, I have the whole series on Mystery Sequels listed and reviewed.

Jasper Dent is the son of Dear Old Dad Billy Dent, a most notorious serial killer who has murdered over 100 people over the course of 20 years before he was finally caught and imprisoned.

Jasper is a teen, currently living with his old (and half senile) grandmom, and is just a few months shy of becoming an adult. Social services are on his tail all the time, checking up on him at the oddest of times. However there is nothing to worry, Jasper is a well behaved boy with friends, who lives a nice life at his grandma’s, or at least that’s what everyone believes.

Because Jasper knows that he’s different. He knows that he has Billy’s blood in him, which also means that his dark thoughts, moods and dreams are taking after his dad, probably him being on road to becoming a serial killer as well. Especially since half the town already believes that he will become just like his dad anyway. Because the apple and the tree.

So Jasper figures that since he is destined to become a serial killer, why not focus on bringing down other serial killers, rather than murdering innocent people. And now with a new serial killer in town, he has the best opportunity to hunt him down.

Except Jasper is not alone. He has two best friends, the hemophiliac Howie, and the African American girl Connie, who is also his girlfriend. They know of his internal struggles and try to be there for him. I think they really ground him and keep him from becoming like his dad.

Jasper and his friend Howie decide to do a bit of sleuthing in this new serial case, and when the killings seem to be a bit too familiar to his father’s style, Jasper can’t put the case to rest, not until he finds out who is this killer, and what he has in common with his Dear Old Dad.

As a child his dad taught him interesting survival skills – not the usual ones that kids learn from their dads, mind you, but ones that serial killers learn to survive and escape. Jasper applies many of the skills that he was taught, along with his analytical mind in working the case from his angle.

While the story is chilling to the core, there are some funny, laugh out loud moments, especially involving Howie. That guy is funny as hell, and some of their discussions break the tension that has been built up really well.

And there’s also Grandma, with whom Jasper lives. She is also hilarious to boot, some of her remarks left me chuckling big time.

I really enjoyed the tension break-up moments, which the book needed, as these gave the story and characters a new depth.

While reading I Hunt Killers, I was strongly reminded of Dexter – which was still fresh in my memory at the time, having just finished watching the last episode of the series on TV – and of course having read all the Dexter books years ago). I loved Dexter, and while Jasper is not as dark, and has a conscience (while Dexter has none, but he has a code), they do share many similarities.

Jasper is a very tormented young man, who is battling with everything that he has learned from his serial killer dad. He also has vague memories of killing people at his dad’s orders – but he’s not sure, did he actually do the killings, or are they but dreams.

But all Jasper wants is to be anything like his father, and fight his dark genes to the last breath.

I Hunt Killers is a very rewarding book, one that even though I’ve read a year ago, I can remember as clearly as if I had read it yesterday.

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